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Leaf Place Mats from The Playdate Busy Book

Picture of The Playdate Busy Book

by Lisa Hanson and Heather Kempskie

Autumn leaves will make beautiful place settings!

What You'll Need

On a pleasant autumn day, playmates can gather a variety of fallen leaves. When inside, cut paper grocery bags into eight-inch-by-eleven-inch rectangles for toddlers, preschoolers, and school-age children. Children can then glue leaves onto these homemade place mats or lightly paint a leaf and press the imprint onto their paper rectangles. When the finished place mats are dry, cover them with clear contact paper and trim the excess.

Babies

As older children make the place mats, make each baby a bib from the same materials. Cut a bib shape from a paper bag. Show the babies some brightly colored leaves and describe their colors: “This leaf is yellow; this leaf is orange.” See if they coo or reach for their favorites. Glue the leaves to the bibs, cover each bib with contact paper, and use ribbon and a hole punch to secure the bib around a baby’s neck. (Babies should wear the bib only under your close supervision.)

Toddler

Toddlers may enjoy gluing leaves onto the grocery bag with your help, but they may have an easier time creating their place mats if you skip the bag altogether. Instead, tape an eight-inch-by-eleven-inch sheet of clear contact paper sticky side up to the table and encourage them to stick the leaves directly to it. During this process, however, toddlers may discover that the dried leaves will often crumble if they try to pull them off the contact paper or if they press them on too roughly. If this happens, talk about the cause and effect—make sure they have lots of leaves! When they’re done, cover their work with another sheet of contact paper.

Preschoolers

At this age, preschoolers have the dexterity to paint one side of a leaf and press it onto their place mat. Encourage them to use different colors of paint and different shapes of leaves to create a design.

School-Age Children

For an added art challenge, encourage school-age children to incorporate the leaf imprints into a drawing on their place mats. For instance, they can turn an imprint of a maple leaf into butterfly wings or an imprint of an oak leaf into the flames from a rocket. 

Leaf Place Mats

© copyright 2013 by Lisa Hanson & Heather Kempskie from The Playdate Busy Book with permission of its publisher, Meadowbrook Press.

Can You Solve the Mystery? - Goodreads Book Giveaway

We're running a book giveaway on Goodreads this month for the first title in the Can You Solve the Mystery? series! If you're a Goodreads member you can enter with the link below. If you're not a Goodreads member, be sure to check back for more upcoming giveaways!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Secret of the Long-Lost Cousin by M. Masters

The Secret of the Long-Lost Cousin

Giveaway ends October 24, 2013.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win
How Can You Get Kids More Excited About Poetry?

by Bruce Lansky

The single most important thing a teacher can do is teach his or her attitude. That is, if a teacher loves poetry or is excited about poetry, it is very likely that kids will pick this up. The main thing is to make the entire process of reading and writing poetry with students fun.

A teacher who loves poetry will:

1. Select poems that kids will enjoy--either to read and discuss or use as a model for writing.

2. Include poetry in the classroom every day or every week--with a daily or weekly poetry break.

3. Recite poetry to celebrate birthdays, holidays, and special occasions.

4. Have a wide range of poetry books in the classroom for kids to access.

5. Promote poetry projects such as:
-compiling a book of your students' favorite poems
-compiling a book of poems students have written
-inviting parents in for a poetry recital
-requiring students to recite poems for show and tell (e.g., if they didn't go anywhere fascinating for summer vacation, they can recite a poem about a trip or activity they wished they had taken).

6. Invite kids to perform poetry as duets or trios. (They can use the poems on GigglePoetry.com in the Poetry Theater section.)

7. Invite any mothers, fathers, principals, or superintendents who visit your classroom to recite a poem.

If a teacher starts with a love for poetry and makes the process of reading and writing poetry fun, the ideas above are just a few ways to encourage students to love poetry, too.

Naming Siblings: 6 Ways to Come Up with Compatible Names

by Bruce Lansky

To name your first baby, your assignment is simple: Pick some names you and your spouse or partner both like, decide how well each will work for your child over his or her lifetime, then choose the best one.

When you name your second baby, however, there’s one more step: Consider how well that name “goes” with the name of your first child. Think ahead to a time when you’re discussing your children with a friend or calling your kids to dinner. Do the names sound as though they belong to kids in the same family? Names that “go together” create a sense of unity, and many parents of siblings seem to follow unifying strategies when naming their children. These strategies are especially common among parents of twins, but they easily extend to parents of children of all ages.

1) Use names that start with the same letter.

For many of the most popular pairs of names for twins (see list below), the paired names start with the same letter (like Hailey & Hannah, Jacob & Joshua, Madison & Matthew). In my own case, I gave my son and daughter names that begin with the same letter to help create a joint identity for them as siblings in our family—not that it did much to prevent sibling rivalry.

2) Use names that contain sound-alike elements.

Many people find rhyming names (like Jaden & Braden) off-putting. But giving siblings names that contain sound-alike elements can convey unity while promoting individuality. You can choose names that begin with the same sound (like Andrew & Anthony or Isaac & Isaiah). You can choose names that end with the same sound (like Gabriella & Isabella or Olivia & Sophia). Or you can choose names that share the same sound in different locations (like Emma & William). One more caveat: Avoid names that sound too similar (like Taylor & Tyler). They can have the same off-putting effect as rhyming names.

3) Use names with the same origin.

Jacob & Jessica have Hebrew origins and are important figures in the Old Testament. Kevin & Caitlin have Irish origins. Ramona & Carmen have Spanish origins. These names all pair well together because they share the same origins. Conversely, Jack, Mario, Gustave, and Jorge all have different origins. None of them seem to pair particularly well together.

4) Use names with a similar theme.

Faith & Hope are inspirational names. Ava & Sophia have famous movie-star namesakes. Other thematically paired names include: Harry & Hermione (Harry Potter characters), Jason & Juno (mythological characters), Lily & Holly (flowers), Sienna & Sydney (cities), Derek & Alex (New York Yankees), Edward & Bella (Twilight characters). Pairing names based on themes is lots of fun, but watch out: It’s easy to get carried away and wind up with silly pairs like Ben & Jerry, Bonnie & Clyde, Jack & Jill, Dick & Jane, or Bert & Ernie.

5) Use names with clear gender associations.

Janessa is a name clearly used for girls, but Jordan is used for both girls and boys. So, it can be awkward to be the sibling whose gender isn’t obvious to most people who hear the two names together. For that reason, it makes sense to give siblings names with clear gender associations. Examples of gender-shared names used more for girls than boys are Bailey, Taylor, Tracey, Harper, Whitney, and Jamie. Examples of gender-shared names used more for boys than girls are Corey, James, Colby, Mason, Terry, and Parker.

6) Use names that are of the same vintage.

George, Walter, Ethel, and Dorothy were all popular in the first half of the twentieth century, so they don’t go well with contemporary names like Logan, Tyler, Madison, and Lindsay.

These naming strategies contribute to the style or “vibe” of names. While using them isn’t mandatory by any means, stylistic differences among siblings’ names may raise questions or call unwanted attention to those whose names don’t fit the unifying style.

For example, imagine a family whose children’s names are Kevin, Brian, Katie… and Ichabod. For his entire life, Ichabod—and his parents—may have to explain why his name isn’t Irish like his siblings’ names. Is this a debilitating situation? Probably not. But it may be an annoying one, especially if Ichabod doesn’t enjoy being singled out.

To start thinking about names that share a style, check out the following lists of the most popular names for twins.

Twin Girls
Gabriella, Isabella
Faith, Hope
Mackenzie, Madison
Hailey, Hannah
Olivia, Sophia
Ava, Emma
Megan, Morgan
Makayla, Makenzie
Natalie, Nicole
Abigail, Emily

Twin Boys
Jacob, Joshua
Daniel, David
Isaac, Isaiah
Landon, Logan
Ethan, Evan
Alexander, Benjamin
Caleb, Joshua
Jayden, Jordan
Elijah, Isaiah
Alexander, Nicholas

Twin Girl & Boy
Taylor, Tyler
Madison, Matthew
Emily, Ethan
Madison, Mason
Emma, Ethan
Natalie, Nathan
Zoe, Zachary
Sophia, Samuel
Emma, Jacob
Emma, William

For Bruce's latest musings on names and naming check out his blog, Baby Names in the News.

Welcome to the new Meadowbrook Press!

Meadowbrook Press

Welcome to our new and improved Meadowbrook Press website!

While you can find our titles nationally in bookstores and other retail outlets our online store offers:

  • Easy online ordering.
  • Free shipping and handling on orders over $25.
  • Quantity discounts on bulk orders (please contact us for details.)
  • Internet exclusives and bargain books not available anywhere else

So please take a look around and let us know what you think! And be sure to check back for more articles and advice on baby names, pregnancy, childcare, children’s fiction and poetry. We have lots in store to share with you in the upcoming months!

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